BETA

Church News readers weather the storms

Church News readers have shared some of their experiences during recent "weather events." If you have a story relating to weather conditions, please e-mail it to [email protected]. In the subject field, please enter "Weather."

HEDGESVILLE, WEST VIRGINIA

Vehicles attempt to pass tractor trailers that are stuck on the off ramp of Interstate 81 Northbound during blizzard conditions in Grantville Pa. on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010.
Vehicles attempt to pass tractor trailers that are stuck on the off ramp of Interstate 81 Northbound during blizzard conditions in Grantville Pa. on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010. Photo: Associated Press

(From an e-mail sent Feb. 11.)

This is not the kind of blizzard that I enjoy so much at the local Dairy Queen.

There are at least two feet or more of snow on the ground hereabouts, it keeps coming down, and the word on the weatherman's street is that it won't stop until Sunday morning.

Still, there's nowhere else that I absolutely have to be and nothing else that I especially have to do.

Residents dig out in the Cabbage Hill area along St Joseph Street, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 in Lancaster, Pa.
Residents dig out in the Cabbage Hill area along St Joseph Street, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 in Lancaster, Pa. Photo: Associated Press

It's during times such as this that I am especially grateful for the "Emergency Preparedness" self-sufficiency program that is taught and encouraged by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The double-whammy blizzards of 2010 made local roads hereabouts impassable as well as seriously life threatening.

I've been snowbound for about a week now, but the emergency preparedness lessons taught to me in Church made what could have been a harrowing emergency into a reclusive and restful vacation.

With plenty of food, stored water and two alternative home heating systems, the waist-high snow (drifting even higher in spots) gave me a wonderful respite wherein I immersed myself in books, letter writing, and e-mail.

So, instead of concerned, I was and am comfortable and content.

Some others in my area, even Church members, were trapped in a much more perilous predicament.

— Larry D. Kump, Hedgesville Ward, Martinsburg West Virginia Stake

LA CANADA, CALIF.

(On Feb. 11, April Clive sent the Church News a copy of an e-mail she wrote on Feb. 7 to her son, Jordan, who is serving as a missionary in Taiwan. In the e-mail she describes efforts of Latter-day Saints to help in the aftermath of a mud slide in California.)

Yesterday (Saturday, Feb. 6) morning we received an e-mail from the stake, asking ward and stake members to go NOW to the Woodhouse family's house and help dig them out of the mud slide that covered their neighborhood. (Charles Woodhouse is first counselor in the La Cresenta California Stake presidency.) They had awakened to see mud in their living room, seeping in under their front door, and their whole block was 8 inches deep in mud, meaning that no cars would be able to drive out of their cul-de-sac. Stuck! And all this was a result of three days of torrential rain pelting the mountains around Angeles Crest Highway. We had all been warned about this: since the summer wildfires destroyed the vegetation holding the mountain together, the mud slides would be coming next.

Within an hour of that emergency e-mail, over 100 members from the La Crescenta Stake showed up at the Woodhouses' home, having hiked down from the highway bringing shovels, wheelbarrows, and all kinds of clean-up equipment. Of the eight homes on that street where President Woodhouse lives (which all got hit with mud slides) his home had over 90% of the volunteers helping in his yard -- until a few like Dad, Trevor and John straggled over to help the other neighbors, who looked very disappointed that they didn't have a Mormon ... rescue crew in THEIR front yards. Indeed, the Mormons were so well-organized and busy working when firefighters arrived to help, that the cameramen from the news crews were amazed.

The group of volunteers mushroomed to more than 150.
The group of volunteers mushroomed to more than 150. Photo: Courtesy Greggory Devore

Yesterday's "call to arms" of the LDS community had such an immediate response that our city's Fire Department and police force were blown away, too. The fire department just stood back and waved traffic around a detour, or tried to help our volunteers come up with more parking areas, as carload after (mini-van) load of LDS families dropped off volunteers with shovels and wheelbarrows to help clear away the mud and debris. Jeff Frame and Craig Anderson even appeared with their "Bobcats" (heavy-duty equipment) to make the job go faster, and it looked like the kind of rescue effort you'd hope for in Haiti. Our high priest group leader, Brian Palmer, even drove around to neighboring streets to ask if any more people needed help "as long as we are all still here with shovels and wheelbarrows..." and neighbors were very touched that perfect strangers would offer to help in this way.

When President Woodhouse was asked by all his neighbors how it was that "so many people from your Church came so quickly to rescue us" he told them that all it took was two simple e-mails at the computer. Two replied, "Hey, maybe WE should look into your Church, too!"... He had no trouble handing out some copies of the Book of Mormon that day to people who also asked about this amazing call to duty. It was a HUGE mess, but lots was accomplished before the day was over. Then I wondered about the homes up on Ocean View Boulevard, who were in even more dire straits hoping that they could "hire the Mormons" to come and do the same to their homes before it got too dark to continue working. The mud slides there had infiltrated entire homes, knocked down walls and even overturned cars. I wondered what should be done since the next day was the Sabbath...

Then today all Church meetings after sacrament meeting in our stake were cancelled so that all Priesthood members age 16 and older could go help dig out more homes in trouble. Evidently there were still some neighborhood streets with so much mud and debris in the road that cars still could not pass. Homes had been evacuated, many of which had walls knocked in, cars overturned and six inches of mud covering every floor of every room. Roadblocks had been set up forbidding anyone to enter unless they identified themselves as [volunteers from] the LDS Church. This request had come in this morning from our mayor to our stake president, and it's no wonder: the Church was getting a reputation for our quick call to action! I learned later that even Governor Schwarzenegger had arrived to survey the scene and when told of Mormon volunteers, he asked, "Can they do it again?"

This reminds me of the story of that Sunday meeting in 1856 when Brigham Young stood up to give a talk to the Saints who had settled in the Salt Lake Valley. He announced that something else was much more important than a Sabbath-day talk at the moment: "We have Saints who are traveling here by handcart, trying to reach us but are dying because of the winter storms. Let us stop our worship services, gather provisions and go out to find and rescue them NOW!"

Today has been that kind of a "Brigham Young Sunday" and we should be very grateful to be members of a Church that takes action to help other people.

You would have been very inspired to see people in our stake working so hard to help others this weekend, Jordan. Just the kind of missionary work you would have loved.

— April Clive, La Canada 1st Ward, La Crescenta California Stake

A person uses cross country skis to get up 26th Street NW near P Street in the snow in Washington, D.C.
A person uses cross country skis to get up 26th Street NW near P Street in the snow in Washington, D.C. Photo: Associated Press

Sorry, no more articles available